Tending the Tender: Maintenance for USS Frank Cable
It’s great to have a fleet of submarines, but even nuclear submarines need some level of at-sea support to improve their effectiveness. Submarine tenders can bring a boat food, fuel, weapons, and other supplies, while carrying a full array of maintenance equipment and personnel. The 664 foot, 23,000 ton USS Frank Cable [AS-40] was commissioned back in 1978, and was supposed to have ended her career in 1996. Unfortunately, the USS Holland [AS-32] needed to be retired that year, after 33 years of service, and the US Navy had no ship to replace her in the Western Pacific. USS Frank Cable was refurbished and reactivated for that role, and reached the 33-year mark herself in 2011. The ship was transferred from the US Navy on Feb 1/10, becoming 1 of only 2 Submarine Tenders in US Military Sealift Command’s 26-vessel Special Mission Ships Program. AS-40’s crews have won a number of commendations, but her most high profile incident took place on Dec 1/06 in Guam, when a steam line ruptured during a safety valve check, killing 2 sailors and injuring 7. A Navy investigation cited the sailors’ heroism during the incident, but there were serious questions afterward concerning some of the command decisions.
Vigor Marine, LLC in Portland, OR recently won a $14.2 million firm-fixed-price contract for USS Frank Cable’s regular overhaul and dry-docking. The overhaul will include replacing switchboards and the ship’s electrical power control panel, replacing LP turbine rotors and steel, installing fuel oil overflow headers, and conducting machinery and habitability overhauls and repairs. A contract option could bring the cumulative value of this contract to $20.1 million. Work will be performed in Portland, OR, and is expected to be complete by June 15/12, or July 1/12 if the option is exercised. All contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12. This contract was competitively procured by posting the solicitation via Military Sealift Command, Navy Electronic Commerce Online and FBO.gov sites, with 4 offers received by US Military Sealift Command in Washington, DC (N00033-12-C-7501).